ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Agrarian Relations and Socio-Economic Change in Bihar

Two developments in the last three decades - mobilisation of the poor peasants and increased migration - appear to be the most striking agents of change in rural Bihar. These changes were set in motion from the 1950s, following an incomplete land reform programme that ostensibly favoured the middle landlord class. Increasing poverty, poor returns from land and rising rent demands have since then widened the ranks of the poor peasantry which now consist of a mix of several castes. It is again from these sections that most migration to urban areas, chiefly as unskilled or low-skilled labour, takes place. On the other hand, middle castes chiefly drawn from upper backward castes increasingly make up the landlord class. It is these caste groups that have been able to perpetuate their dominance by also making up and aligning with the dominant political classes. On their part, the radical Left organisations that have made headway in several areas of south and north Bihar have been unable to mobilise rising peasant class consciousness in rural areas, due to their inability to fully comprehend the dichotomy that defines caste and class in the state.

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